Monday, September 27, 2010

Fu Fu Cafe


Fu Fu Cafe
9889 Bellaire
Houston, TX

10 AM to 2 AM Seven days a week $1 to $10

Last year for my birthday trip to Houston I searched for a restaurant that served a lot of dumpling dishes. I was especially looking for soup dumplings. This establishment came up and based on the reviews of it by two Houston papers it fit the bill. Not the easiest place to find. It resides in a unit of a large shopping center devoted to all things Chinese. It is really just a hole in the wall with limited seating but a huge menu of authentic Chinese cooking at amazing prices. The dumplings were mainly at the beginning of the menu. I could have eaten there for a week day and night and barely scratched the surface

I started off with Spicy Szechuan Noodle. Not a dumpling but Robb Walsh (one of the reviewers) recommended it. It is just plain noodles with a Szechuan pepper sauce. Not a true pepper and supposedly possessing strange properties. I found it well within my tolerances with a truly unique taste. It did numb my mouth a bit but the narcotic effects that make it infamous never kicked in.

I started the dumpling feast with a pan Fried Pork Dumpling. This was essentially pot sticker but of a shape I have never seen. Long and narrow and containing a pork mixture tasting like no other I have ever had. The chewy dough and excellent pork flavor made for a good experience for me

On to a steamed dumpling encasing ground pork and preserved cabbage. I love both and they proved delightful. Again since this is northern Chinese dumplings the dough is thicker and has a nice chew to it. These little bundles of joy delighted me no end with their slightly anise flavor.

Finally the Steam Pork Buns came. These were the soup dumplings that I had come here for. Why they call them what they do is a mystery. These rather large dumplings hold a pork meatball and liquid soup within them. Safety is the key here. If you pop them in your mouth the second they hit the table and you will be inhaling scalding hot liquid. Some use chopsticks to poke them open to cool. This seems to spill a good bit of the soup on the plate. Again I followed Robb Walsh’s lead and was patient. Just let them cool just a bit. Now eat them whole chewing them up to release the soup. The combination of the soup, pork, and dough achieves perfection. The trick to making them is to use a gelatinized soup in the dumpling that turns liquid when heated.

Being alone I had reached the limit on dumplings. I will have to bring others next time so I can tasty a greater variety. If you desire a true taste of the east head to this venue

Joes Pizza and Pasta


Joe’s Pizza and Pasta
425 7th St.
Lake Charles LA

Seven days a week 14:00 AM to 9.30 PM $1.50 to $21

To my knowledge this is the fifth venue of this establishment to date. There are two in east Texas and now three in southwest Louisiana. They seem to be all owned by one family who use their mother’s and grandmother’s recipes. I believed they are of Sicilian descent but perhaps a different region that the ones here in SW LA. The cuisine is just different enough to make it interesting. I did a review some three years ago on the Sulphur operation. The new one deserves one also.

The garlic knot rolls they bring out are as good as they have always been. The in-house Tomato Italian dressing for salads I do not remember. However it is too acrid for my taste. When I saw mussels on the menu I rejoiced until brought them out and I remember that they use New Zealand green lips which I hate. However the white wine sauce was fantastic. I sopped it up with the rolls and was quite happy. I suggest getting anytime you see it on the menu. My Eggplant Parmesan proved as delicious as the one from across the river. My side of pasta with the tasty but fresh marinara sauce was like a bonus. They slice the eggplant lengthwise, fry it, slather on marinara and mozzarella then bake it, fantastic. My order of Tiramisu was outstanding

Next time my sister came with me. Unfortunately she did not care for the house dressing also. My order of Garlic Cheese Bread was as good as ever, ooey gooey. My sister went with the Stuffed Mushrooms. These crabmeat stuffed delights came in a spinach enhanced white sauce. Mine proved delicious. I got the Linguine al Olio. Pasta tossed with garlic, olive oil, and fresh tomatoes. I love the simplicity of just pasta and oil. I kinda put the tomatoes aside so I could eat just the pasta and oil. However I did taste a piece of tomato and it proved so good that I ate them as sorta a side dish. I also got a side dish of meatballs. Not quite as large as I remember but just as tasty smothered in the excellent marinara sauce of theirs. My sister went for a strawberry cheesecake and me the classic cannoli (fried tube of dough stuffed with sweetened ricotta and chocolate chips). Both were good.

This is a short review but I saw and tasted enough to assure myself that their standard is being kept up. The prices are reasonable especially at lunch. They also serve plenty of food. I am told by reliable sources that the pizza is great. I saw enough boxes being brought to the front to confirm that. I however am not a pizza fan so I did not indulge. All I can say is give this place a try and you will be happy with them



MacFarlane’s Celtic Pub
417 Ann St
Lake Charles LA

Monday to Saturday 10:30 AM to 11.00 PM $3 to $11

This venue has been a long time coming, mainly because the owner was doing all the work himself. The owner of the Brick House Catering decided to carve an Irish Pub out of the east end of the old Kelly-Weber warehouse. He did an outstanding job. The space is a treat.

I was in on the first day. The food was not to my expectations. This can often happen first day (jitters, equipment malfunction, wrong food supplies, etc). However when I went back a week or so later they exceed my fondest wishes. I started with the Potato Cake appetizer. A similar dish might be called boxty in Ireland. Basically a mashed potato pancake with herbs and fried in bacon fat, remarkable light with a wonderful taste. Next came a huge (bring your appetite here) Soft Shell Crab Po Boy. Two whales (very large) flour coated and fried to perfection. They sat on honey wheat po boy bread with an in-house tarter sauce, tomatoes and lettuce. The sweet crispy crab played well against the sharp tartar sauce with the bread adding a nutty note. I went with the Colcannon side and loved my choice. Kale and potatoes cooked down to a mashed potato consistency with bacon. The kale brought much flavor to the potatoes,
The Hot Cinnamon Apple Pie proved spectacular. A cinnamon infused crust surrounding a truly magnificent apple filling, not too sweet not too tart.

Next time I went for the Blarney Stones. A mild Jalapeno half stuffed with sausage then wrapped in bacon and grilled, quite tasty with just the right kick. I then went old school with a Sheppard’s Pie, basically a delectable and delicious lamb stew hidden under herbal mashed potatoes. Be careful this comes out steaming hot. I love lamb and the meat in the stew was sweet and tender. My sides of Brown Sugar and Bacon Glazed Green Beans and Cole Slaw made as big an impression as the pie. If you have ever eaten at a Brick House function you would recognize these beans. The slaw with its combo of purple and green cabbage seemed just tossed with a light mayonnaise dressing. The Irish Chocolate Pot proved a unique and wonderful twist on crème brule. I was expecting chocolate pudding. What I received was light vanilla custard topped with a thin layer of dark chocolate sauce. This provided for a light dessert with full flavor.

I tried the Fried Pickle and Pepper and did not care for them, for me the crust was just not right. However the Celtic Breakfast more than satisfied. I have been to England several times and love the breakfast they call a Fry Up. This closely approximates if not exceeds it. You get two eggs your way, an English sausage called a banger, two pieces of in-house cured Irish Bacon (slices of pork tenderloin), black i.e. blood and white (made without blood but with the same grains), flavorful kicked up pork and beans, grilled tomatoes and potatoes, and slices of bread spread with drippings (grease) and toasted. Sound horrible to some but music to my ears. The puddings which are really sausages and the banger provide unique texture and spices. The Irish bacon is nothing like Canadian bacon. Sliced along the tenderloin and cured but not smoked. My only complaint was that the tomatoes were not grilled enough. The Drunken Irish Bread Pudding with it Irish whiskey cream sauce was a mountain of bread soaked with custard and cooked until melting in your mouth
Last foray was for the MacFarlane Burger, A tower of an eight ounce patty of beef, Irish bacon, Cajun sausage, cheese, fried egg, tomato and lettuce on a Jalapeño cheddar bun. The trick here is to squeeze it down and get a couple of bites of everything. The egg yolk bursts and provides a sorta of rich sauce for the rest. However it soon disintegrates and you have to attack it anyway you can. That can prove delicious as well as you combine different components of it to get a bite. The fresh cut French fries suffered from being limp, somewhat greasy and in this case over seasoned. I frequently encounter this when people try to do fresh cut.

The extraordinary thing about this venue is that the beer menu is longer than the food menu. Also they provide short descriptions of the type of beer they are selling. It is not just a long list that only a beer fanatic could choose from. They feature beers from all over the world, beer novice or beer expert dream. I highly recommend this departure from the standard Lake Charles establishment. The only thing I can say now is bring your thirst and your appetite.


Out of town and away from computer this week. I will be bring back a few things and hopefully the cool weather will get me out of my funk. Meanwhile enjoy some regular reviews and the pics I took.

Monday, September 20, 2010


This true Mexican across the river had slipped my mind for awhile but has popped back into it. I found it still open (thank you sulphur for supporting it) and somewhat improved. The menu has been spiffied up. It is more logically put together with some new stuff I am dying to try. Below is the two salsas brought to the table. The one on the left is an excellent mild red salsa with hunks of tomato, peppers and onions. The one on the left is a creamy tomatillo salsa. While it still contains lots of heat it also contains lots of flavor. For me dipping the chip and knocking off the excess brought the heat to where I could stand it. It has just good flavor I used it in the gordita and taco I ate.
Here are the chips. They are pretty standard but not greasy. Nice way to start the meal
This is the Tostada de Ceviche de Camaron. A flat crisp tortilla layered with mayonnaise and shrimp cooked in lemon juice and mixed with pico de gallo topped with lettuce and avocado.
It is a wonderful amalgamation of flavors and textures. Crisp corn tortilla, unctuous mayo cutting through the tangy shrimp, nice bite of pico and the buttery smoothness of the avocado. I suspect this will be my starter every time I eat here

I thought I had ordered a one gordita with barbacoa and one with chicharron however the server thought I had ordered a half and half gordita. I did not dissuade him as this allowed me to order something else. The barbacoa was shredded beef with little smoke or bbq flavor. The chicharron which should be pork skins braised in tomatillo sauce turned out to be squares of pork belly (now used for cracklins) braised in a mild sauce. The good thing about them was they had been braised long enough and cut small enough that they were edible. After a little doctoring with sour cream and guacamole (I had order on the side) it was fine
Not pictured is a tongue soft taco on corn tortillas. When I first came here the meat in the taco was of the right proportion. However they have succumb to the american idea that more is better. I personal do not think so but it was delicious never the less. There are lots of new and interesting dishes on the menu. Expect to see them here the future

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Boudin Cookoff

Press Release from the cook off people

Lafayette Louisiana holds one of the state’s most unique food related festivals each October. The annual Boudin Cook-Off is a celebration of Louisiana ’s Cajun boudin sausage, which is a delicious blend of pork, rice, and seasoning loosely stuffed into a casing and eaten throughout South Louisiana from sunup to sundown. At the Boudin Cook-Off over twenty of the region’s top boudin makers bring their best boudin and boudin inspired dishes in three categories(traditional, specialty, and unlinked) to sample to the crowd and to vie for approval from the judges and from the people in the form of the coveted People’s Choice Award. Last year’s entries included boudin stuffed jalapenos, shrimp boudin egg rolls, boudin pie, boudin wontons, a boudin burger,smoked boudin, and boudin balls. There’s no other event quite like this boudin extravaganza.

OCT. 16 -- Lafayette, Louisiana

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Victoria's Taqueria

For the last couple of weeks when I passed by here going home I thought I saw chairs and tables. So today I pulled up and there were table and chairs. Tables with napkin holders and salt and pepper shakers. It is still counter service and they have no air conditioning but now I can sit down and not try juggling the order and my crutches.

Below in an aqua fresca, tamarindo. It is a sweet/sour drink made from the seeds and pulp of the tamarind tree. Other uses include worcestershire sauce and a lot of latin cooking. I tasted it years ago and loved it. I get it any time I can.
I got a couple of gorditas. A split corn tortilla loaded up like a gyro. These are all meat with onions and cilantro if you like which I do not. This one is tongue. Delicious and better than any beef except perhaps heart. You can count on innards for delivering taste
This one is barbacoa. Not really BBQ but it tends to have been charred on a flattop
They ask you what hot sauce you want. Chose the red mild unless you are a true chili head then the atomic green is for you. Now that I know they have seating I will stopping here more often. Now if I could convince them to do the drive thru window I would be set

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jo Jo's

I was in this part of town checking out the progress of the Mongolian Grill (seem to have come to a standstill) so I decided to do revisit at Jo Jo's. They were having a steady trade not as full as when they first opened. The staff was just as efficient and courteous. Below in Sour and Spicy soup that is as classic as when I first ate it here.

I like the way they do the shrimp roll in this elongated form. Also it is almost all shrimp with just some green onion and crispy wrapper. The sweet and sour sauce also goes well with it.
I opted for the Kung Pao Shrimp with white rice from the lunch menu. The shrimp and sauce were excellent but I was a bit surprised by the brunoise cut on the vegetables. No big deal I will use a fork instead of chop sticks. However I could not stomach that the carrots were virtually raw. I ate the delectable shrimp and like a good Cajun boy the rice. Most of it got left of the plate. I do not consider it a bad thing just not my thing.

Southern Classic Chicken

Last week I had to travel to Shreveport for medical reasons. I was planning a trip of a more leisurely type ever since I read that the four laning of Hwy 171 had been completed. It was to be a sentimental journey. Forty years ago I traversed the then mostly two lane 171 to go to and from Centenary College. The first three on Continental Trailways and the last in the 1953 Ford Mainline Flathead V-8 that had been handed down to me by my father. A car of my own age as it was bought the year of my birth. The bottom third or so through DeRidder and Leesville much the same as it goes through the hearts of these towns. Then it begins to skirt the smaller towns it normally went through except Many. It still goes through the center of town there but skirts the other small towns after. While it took longer back then the road seems to have lost part of its soul. However it has gained a new soul of fine scenery and pine forest and the ability to pass log and chip trucks. Several things that have not changed is that is ain't straight and level it is not. Next month when I have return to Shreveport, I will go up 171 as it is a journey I like.

As is my wont I was checking out places to eat going up and down the corridor. I ran across a small chain that seem interesting. A chicken joint call Southern Classic Chicken. There is one in Many and Mansfield with several in Shreveport. I stopped off at the Many one as I could see it from the road. It has small footprint (6 booths) and a drive thru. It just does deep fried chicken and sides, Below in a three piece (drumstick, thigh, and breast) with a schoolhouse roll. Nice crisp flour coating with a nice spice profile. The meat did not seem to be marinated but it was nice and moist without being greasy. As I made my way through the leg and thigh the breast was still hot when I got to it.
I am particular about my fries so I usually get mashed potatoes and gravy instead. I fear I made a mistake in this case. The fries I saw on others people plate seem just right. Kinda of a skinny fry like the burger joints. The gravy here seems to be chicken and mine had a sour note.
However the McD apple pie clones were excellent. Just the right amount of cinnamon in the filling with a crispy crust that held the heat in until I got to it at the end of the meal
If you are every travelling in North Louisiana and love good fried chicken be on the look out for these joints. They hold as good a piece of fried chicken as I have ever had

Monday, September 6, 2010


One weekend I was burning some Groupons in the east houston area (Kemah & Seabrook). For lunch I went to a greek inspired place. It was nice and not far from the water. I started off with Keftethes. Handmade beef meatballs topped with avgolomento lemon sauce. Oregano scented meatballs in a sprightly sauce. It was very good and a great counterpoint to the next dish. I took a page from my sister's book and went with appetizers.Next came the GREEK BAR TRASH. Octopus, Kalamari, Shrimp, and Scallops all grilled and brushed with seasoned olive oil then finished with fresh lemon. Served with fresh toasted bread. All tender except the octopus body. Lots of greek flavor. The very simple seasoning and the grill brought out the best in this seafood. The calamari bodies were very tender. The octopus tentacles were a bit chewy but not excessively so. Not so the body which was inedible. All in all a really nice dish with great flavors
I finished up with Galaktoboureko. Homemade Greek custard baked in a flaky crust then drizzled with honey syrup and dusted with powdered sugar. What I got was the custard in a crepe. Not what I was expecting but still very sweet and good
I would recommend this place for a light lunch or dinner. Its menu is huge. I barely scraped the surface. Below is a link to the website